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THE EFFECT OF NIGERIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH ON STUDENTS OF TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
One of the major distinguishing factors between an animal and man is the ability of man to talk and be able to communicate for others to understand. The understanding of a language is possible in any society because of the uniform acceptance of the people to respond to a particular sound code. For example, every English speaking tongue understands the meaning of the word “water”. Akindele and Adegbije stated that language is;
A human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of units of sound (phonemes), word, morphemes, phrases, sentences and paragraphs or discourse (1).
From that definition, it can be understood that language has been classified as the most exceptional attribute of man. It is through language that human beings grasp and understand reality and transmit it from one generation to another. This view is buttressed by Blakar who asserts that “we actually live and behave in a world of language” (4). Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman quoted Noam Chomoky as saying that:
When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence. The distributive qualities of mind that are so far as we know unique to man. (1).
Language, which Oyewo Yinka describe as “the medium or vehicle for conveying ideas, a system of arbitrary vocal symbol based on social cooperation; the totality of meaningful utterance in any given society” (15) is by far the most important means of human communication.
The effects of Nigerian Pidgin English on students is the focus of this research work. Pidgin has their different histories about language contact and subsequent borrowing and code-mixing. The origin of Nigerian pidgin can be traced to the contact which was established between multilingual coastal communities and Portuguese merchants, who were joined later by the Dutch and the English. Nigerian Pidgin English is in fact becoming very popular in the country, especially in the secondary schools and in the universities; even at public function as well as in the offices. It is a lingua franca for social integration among diverse ethnic groups in the country.
Nigerian Pidgin English has developed to the extent that it is utilized for literary communication. Some of the works which Nigerian pidgin is employed as a medium of expression are “Dis Nigeria Sef” a poem written by Ken Saro-Wiwa, No Food No Country a play by Tunde Fatunde, and Grip Am a play by Ola Rotimi; though some people consider it to be a low social status. Nigerian Pidgin has come to stay as the major lingua franca adopted for communication among the many different speakers in Nigeria. According to Jowitt:
The situation today is that pidgin flourishes as a medium of inter-ethnic communication, especially in the south, and especially in the large cities with many non-indigenous residents (Bendel, Benin, Port Harcourt, etc) or throughout States with small many ethnic groups…(13)
Nigerian Pidgin in this case is a situation where normal language pattern is altered, but generally accepted to convey meaning. The language does not only evolve but also has its origin from a mixture of other languages. Experiences have shown that among the students for which this work was conceived, Nigerian Pidgin English has gained a wider audience in all sectors of the economy, especially the educational sector.
Background to The Study: